Archeologists working in Mexico have uncovered unusually shaped human skulls that are being described as "alien-like" shapes. The skulls have been estimated to be approximately 1,000 years old, according to researchers, as Time reports that researchers have identified the remains to be dated back to 945 A.D. to 1308 A.D.
The skulls were found in an ancient cemetery, located in an area referred to as El Cementerio, contained the remains of 25 human beings, according to Live Science.
The graveyard was actually an accidental discovery back in 1999 by residents of a small village called Onavas when they were building an irrigation system. Onavas and the ancient cemetery are located in the Mexican state of Sonora. While the discovery was just under 15 years ago, it is only recently that researchers have done a more thorough investigation of the archeological find.
Found buried in the small village were the remains of 25 people, and 13 of these contained human skulls that were "deliberately warped" into alien-like shapes. The skulls were described in several media reports appearing to be "cone heads", meaning the skulls were elongated and pointy at the back of the head. Additionally, scientists noted the teeth on the skeletal remains were also mutilated on some of the individuals. It is believed these deformations were done intentionally.
Seventeen of the uncovered skeletons were children that ranged in age from about 5 months to 16 years. It is believed the warping of the skulls could have led to the death of these children, as no other evidence of sickness or disease was found during the examination. All but one skeleton, who was identified as a female, were reportedly male and it is not clear to researchers why the cemetery contained primarily male children.
According to Live Science, an ancient ritual of deforming skulls intentionally was common in ancient Central America, and the Mexico finding suggests that this custom spread farther north than researchers originally thought.
"Cranial deformation has been used by different societies in the world as a ritual practice, or for distinction of status within a group or to distinguish between social groups," said researcher Cristina García Moreno, an archaeologist at Arizona State University who worked on this study. "The reason why these individuals at El Cementerio deformed their skulls is still unknown."
Scientists are hoping to explore the region further and see if more cemeteries are found.